In a sentence, the presence or absence of a functioning operating room (OR) in the new hospital will determine the type of medical care offered to the residents of Burns Lake for years to come.
Without an OR Burns Lake has become “a place you can die in but you cannot be born in.” We have become a community among many across rural Canada that does not have a single full time resident physician. We have become a “crate and ship” community. If you have anything acute and serious, surgical or requiring advanced diagnostic equipment you got out to a tertiary center like Vanderhoof, Smithers, Prince George, communities we were once par with. We have become unattractive to the new medical graduates who do not want to practice itinerant medicine, work the crippling long hours and who have been trained in an atmosphere of reasonable diagnostic, surgical and specialist backup.
With a functioning OR in the new hospital expectant mothers will be able once again to have their babies here. We will require at least four nurses trained to work in the OR who will be fully cross trained for emergency shifts and other areas of the hospital.
We will require at least four physicians who have advanced skill training in surgery, anesthesia and obstetrics. We will be able to attract visiting specialists who may need an OR or an anesthetic to do their work. The number of patients needing to travel for medical care will be cut at least to half enhancing their safety from traveling the perilously dangerous Hwy. 16.
The hidden health care tax we pay now as residents of Burns Lake for unreimbursed travel expenses will partially disappear. Our hospital will regain a sensitivity towards cleanliness and sterile surgical technique. The list goes on… it is so obvious.
Just having a four-walled, equipped OR in the new hospital will not make a functioning OR but it will provide the opportunity to move forward. Without it we will descend down the slippery slope towards a diagnostic and treatment center.
The PG Citizen has a great three part article on the plight of small operating rooms across rural Canada and a solution. Have a look www.princegeorgecitizen.com/news/local/displaced-at-birth-1.951528
Let’s say yes to an OR for Burns Lake.
George Magee M.D.